On the whole, DuPont got off pretty cheaply. EPA could have fined them as much as $300 million, but settled for $10.25 million in fines and $6.25 million in environmental projects because they feared it would have been difficult to get larger fines for violations dating back more than 20 years. The company will also "spend $5 million to study Teflon-related chemicals in grease- and stain-resistant coatings for carpets, clothing and food wrappers."
DuPont had at first claimed that there was no requirement to report the water contamination to EPA because there were no known health effects. Documents were later found showing that DuPont was lying:
In an eight-count complaint, the agency accused DuPont of failing to submit a 1981 study that revealed PFOA was passed from pregnant employees to their fetuses. Two of five babies born to Teflon plant employees that year had eye and face defects similar to those found in newborn rats exposed to the chemical, according to company records.In addition to the $10.3 million fine,
The EPA said DuPont also withheld three 1997 studies that found rats died from inhaling chemicals related to PFOA, and more recent findings that high levels of the chemical were in the blood of people living near the West Virginia plant where Teflon is made.
The company already agreed to pay at least $107 million to settle the class-action lawsuit. A criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department is continuing.Related Articles
Meanwhile, the EPA's ongoing review of health risks eventually could lead to rules that limit or phase out the use of PFOA.
"This is the just the beginning," said Tim Kropp, senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit research organization. "Paying a fine doesn't get the chemical out of people's blood."
- GAO, NY Times & Wall St Journal: US Chemical Policy Needs Fixing, August 3, 2005
- DuPont’s Teflon Armor Wears Thin, August 9, 2004
- It's Not Nice To Poison People And Not Tell EPA, July 14, 2004